Thursday, April 06, 2006

Democrats Getting Nervous About Steele

After a few rhetorical mishaps over the past several months, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R) is beginning to look rather formidable in the Black voter powerhouse state of Maryland. His likely opponent, Congressman Ben Cardin (D) (since Kweisi Mfume's campaign doesn't exist these days), should be sweating a bit with this latest information reported by The Washington Post:

An internal document prepared by a top Democratic strategist warns that a majority of African American voters in Maryland are open to supporting Republican Senate candidate Michael S. Steele and advises the party not to wait to 'knock Steele down. The 37-page report says a sizable segment of likely black voters -- as much as 44 percent -- would readily abandon their historic Democratic allegiances 'after hearing Steele's messaging.'

We were saying this several months back in our political predictions for 2006 - and we didn't take a survey to find that out. When you put a relative unknown face in the Black Maryland community - meaning Ben Cardin - up against a relatively well-known (albeit controversial) and somewhat respected African American - that being Michael Steele - this is what you'll get. And, frankly, Democrats may be on the verge of making the exact same mistake made in 2002 with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, using old school names and faces to attract an otherwise new school, savvy Black electorate.

We're sticking with our prediction from way back in January 2006 (which the Post, the DNC and others conveniently ignored - no surprise since Black media always gets the shaft):

Steele wins by 5 because Cardin is too old school and there'll be a surprising number of Black folks (Democrats and Independents) who will go with who they know.

All that said, Republicans need not pass the Courvoisier just yet (or the bottles of Bud and Coors or whatever clean-cut, stripe-tie White conservatives drink these days in dingy pubs). Encouraging poll numbers in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio don't necessarily mean a sudden exodus of Black voters from the Democratic party. The GOP has been real slick in packaging its Black celebrity statewide nominees in battleground states as a signal of African Americans suddenly going Elephant. That could be further from the truth. If anything, it's a signal of the Black electorate's growing and unpredictable independence as a voting bloc.